Our experience with Search is defined by how Google and Amazon show up search results for a search query. And so are your shoppers’ experience defined by the same tenets of the search functionality. But why should this bother you as a business? Because you should be showing search results in 0.25 seconds to match the level of expectations set by Google. It also means having a search solution built into your system that can beat Amazon’s A9 algorithm. In short, build a search solution that can give shoppers a feeling that you are as good as Amazon and Google in showing up what they are looking for. But why is it so important to show the online shoppers what they are looking for? It is estimated that by 2040, 95% of all purchases will be made online. As of 2019, 80% of all internet users in the US regularly buy at least one product online. eCommerce will be responsible for $4.5 trillion of sales by 2021, double of that in 2017, which means there will be more shoppers visiting your online store searching for products they want to buy than today. Here’s a glimpse of how eCommerce growth is expected to grow in the coming few years. Source: Statista, September 2019 As whacky as it sounds, a study reveals that 43% of online shoppers reported having made the purchases while in bed, 23% at the office and 20% from the bathroom. But you heard it right – shoppers like to browse, explore and buy products at their own convenience and ease. And when your site gets difficult to navigate, your business loses a customer and that’s money left on the table. You definitely do not want to see your customers and their money bidding you adieu. So, show your customers what they are searching for! Why Site Search is the key to acquire and retain customers? Not all shoppers on your eCommerce website come looking for a product they have already thought of. While a lot of shoppers know what they want to buy, you’ll find some are impulsive shoppers. Some of them just finished chatting with a friend who’s referred you and that’s why they are on your site out of curiosity. Some love browsing through your product categories, while others are simply comparing products (and this means they might have come from a competitor or they may have clicked through an ad or a banner within Google or Amazon. Read more on different types of Searches). 30% of all shoppers use the site search within your eCommerce store. Interestingly, half of the people who use site search end up buying something on your site – which means a conversion rate of 50% for the cohort of people who search. This makes it more important for you to retain your shoppers and have them coming back for more. What these numbers indicate is that shoppers who use the inbuilt search system are more likely to buy from your store because searching for a product shows a higher inclination to buy. Hence, as an owner of an eCommerce store, it is essential that your search results page displays products that they are looking for or are more likely to buy. Before we establish the importance of Site Search, let us have a look at a couple of instances where a poorly designed search system can have some disastrous consequences. A shopper searching for a Wireless Headset on an online electronics store gets a list of wired headsets on the first page. While your store does have Bluetooth headsets, your search engine doesn’t list the wireless headsets at the top of the search results page. In another instance, a shopper searching for Hammocks types in ‘hemock’ within the search bar in a Home Improvement store – and gets a ‘zero search results’ page. In both instances, your shopper is disappointed and heartbroken. While they still want to buy the product, the poorly designed search system within your store drives them away to the competition. Your competitor’s superior search algorithms get your shopper’s attention and ultimately their business. A single botched search experience can lead to shoppers having a negative shopping experience even if you have a wonderfully designed UI interface. You could have every single product under the sun within your catalog, but if your shoppers aren’t able to find them when they want them, then your catalog is as good as trash. Challenges with a poor Site Search solution Sometimes customers search for ‘shorts’ when they’re looking for ‘boxers’, and in some cases, they misspell their query. Your search system should be able to recognize synonyms and colloquial terms your shopper types in so that they don’t get zero results search page and hit a dead-end. An intelligent and efficient site search system factors in every possible search scenario to deliver the most relevant product recommendations as fast as possible, which in turn quickens the purchase cycle. Some Site Search solutions even autocomplete queries to recommend products that are relevant to the search query. The eCommerce industry calls this autosuggest (or autocomplete) because your system is configured to automatically suggest products that your shopper could be looking for, much like how a good salesperson would do in a brick and mortar store. And what happens when you get all this right? When you suggest the product your shopper is looking for, you leave an indelible impression in their minds. The shopper not only buys the product that they came looking for, but will return every time they want to buy something online in the future. They trust you and will evangelize your site to their friends, family, and coworkers. You’ve created value for your shoppers and added repeat business for your brand. It is a win-win! We know a well-designed search system results in better conversion rates than normal, growing revenues for your business and a higher customer lifetime value. An intuitive search system lets you inside the mind of the shopper by telling you which products to stock by search queries resulting in zero search results. It also tells you about what items the shoppers search for the most, and helps you gauge the latest shopping trends and behavioral patterns. Analytics that you gather can help you create custom merchandising campaigns, create landing pages or promotions that will help you sell more, add value to your shoppers’ experience ultimately pushing your bottom line. Clearly, Site Search plays a pivotal role in shaping up your eCommerce business. In case you are wondering what is holding your sales down inspite of having the latest in fashion at your eCommerce store – it’s time you look within your site and ask How good is my Site Search system? Your search solution needs to understand the way your shoppers think, their affinity to a brand or a category and analyze their shopping behavior and correctly predict what they are most likely to buy. This, in turn, will help rank and produce relevant search results in front of your shoppers that will help your shoppers convert casual interest into a confirmed purchase. If all of this is working, hurray! otherwise you can reach out to us here to find out what makes for an awesome site search solution.
What, Why and How of Learning to Rank: Learning to Rank (LETOR) is used in the information retrieval (IR) class of problems, as ranking related